Thinking About Literature

In 2014, I and my new Literature class are going to be thinking about the universe that is literature: its stories, characters, themes, worlds, values, challenges, worldviews, genres and more.

We are starting with Jane Eyre. What world did Charlotte Bronte come from, and what shaped her thinking and creativity? What was she trying to say to us, and how did she do it? Are there perspectives and lessons that we, shaped by the C21st, can learn or be challenged by?

So let’s start reading, enjoying and thinking.

Jane eyre



Over the next few weeks staff will have an opportunity to trial the Asus Eeepc. Is this something we need/want in our classrooms? If so, why? How can it be used? What makes it attractive or unattractive as a classroom tool? Up to what age could we use this? If it is deemed useful, it would be great to brainstorm some of the ways in which it could be used. For example, with the built in camera it can be used for podcasts in English. This would be another way of making oral presentations. Using Windows Movie maker one could add pictures and other media to fill out the presentations. What ideas, that support your curriculum, can you think of?


Watch the following and ask yourself if this applies to you. If not, why not? If so, why? Are they overstating the case? Has this view of education lost its sense of balance? But then, are we teetering on the other end of the seesaw? Is there an irony in this clip that it is simply done with words and music?

Watch this clip and reflect.  For good measure, visit the website mentioned at the end of the clip.


Read the following and reflect on the possibilities at our school. Are we wasting 90 minutes of the students’ day as they travel to and from school?

“Sheridan School District bus No. 46 sported a jaunty Christmas wreath on its front grille as driver Vera Launius steered the growling yellow monster over the narrow, curvy, patched and often unpaved roads of southeast Grant County. Inside the bus, about 30 students — from the youngest of elementary pupils to high schoolers — were settled in for a bus ride of up to 90 minutes ending on Garden Seed Road near the unincorporated community of Grapevine. A typical rural Arkansas school bus ride ? No. Not anymore. Secured to the bus ceiling above Launius’ head was a small black box — a cellular router attached to rooftop antenna cables. ”

Read the complete article at:


I have taken the following quote from the PD notes we received at our first session with Tom March, at AISV.  In it, he reflects on the ideal critical thinker. Firstly, do we agree with the definition offered?  If we do, what are We doing to nurture these thinkers? Are we giving our students the skills with which to tackle the ideas, struggles, issues and challenges of their world?

“Can Students Develop Sophisticated Thinking Skills?

The Delphi Report (American Philosophical Association, 1990) described the ideal critical thinker as one who is

habitually inquisitive, well-informed, trustful of reason, open-minded, flexible, fair-minded in evaluation, honest in facing personal biases, prudent in making judgments, willing to reconsider, clear about issues, orderly in complex matters, diligent in seeking relevant information, reasonable in the selection of criteria, focused in inquiry, and persistent in seeking results which are as precise as the subject and the circumstances of inquiry permit.

The literature of critical thinking has recognised that to achieve these goals, students need not only the capacity (or “skills”), but also the disposition to engage in such practices (Perkins, Farady, & Bushey, 1991).  This emphasis puts focus on “the full educational surround” and “asks teachers to create a culture of thinking in the classroom” (Tishman, Jay, & Perkins, 1992).  The main strategy used to develop this culture is frequent use of Thinking Routines: “simple patterns or structures, used over and over again, that support and scaffold specific thinking moves or actions.” The primary purpose of these routines is to make the “thinking of everyone in the classroom more visible and apparent” (Ritchhart, Palmer, Church, & Tishman, 2006).”


Am I right in thinking that some (not a few) teachers have fears with regard to using ICT in their teaching programme? If my conjecture has some truth, what are these fears? Or is using the word fear over stating the case? Is there a sense that the students may know more than we do and we’ll look foolish? Is it a loss of control or sense of that loss? Or are some teachers reluctant to use it, simply, because the old tried and true methods are the best? I started school using a slate and progressed through to a nibbed pen and inkwell. In my teaching career we had ink and spirit duplicators as well as the three stage photocopier (wow)! What makes ICT a seemingly greater obstacle than before? Or is it that some teachers have always resisted change? I know it is ironic to ask a question about the fears of using ICT and hoping that people will use a blog to reply. But maybe some of their colleagues could speak on their behalf. In one of the comments “Shorty” has introduced “Bob”, a colleague he didn’t wish to reveal. Maybe some of us have a “Sam or a Sue” we can reflect on. The clip below also makes my point.